NPOAS sat down with “Last Cut” author Sam Paige to learn more about her and her book.
“LAST CUT… outlines my own explant process and more broadly offers a 7-step framework for the many moments in life when we are given the opportunity to make choices that line up who we are on the inside with how we are moving through the world. These moments are the last cuts. When we openly acknowledge a disconnect—such as living with implants was for me, then we can move through a process of self-inquiry to find a solution and greater personal freedom.”
Tell us why you decided to write a book about your experience.
When I decided to have an explant in 2016, there were very few people sharing their stories of choosing to be flat, especially in a pre- or post-cancer context. Vonn Jensen of Flattopper Pride was one of the trailblazers in this work, and they deeply impacted me. In the weeks leading up to my own explant surgery, I recalled the conversations and decisions made around my preventive double mastectomy in 2008. Going flat only offered as an option with bias. I was told that going flat rarely makes people happy. The very word “flat” almost seemed taboo. What nonsense!
So, as I stepped into my own embodiment, I documented my experiences through Last Cut Project, tracing my own reclamation for us all. This body of work became LAST CUT, the book that outlines my own explant process and more broadly offers a 7-step framework for the many moments in life when we are given the opportunity to make choices that line up who we are on the inside with how we are moving through the world. These moments are the last cuts. When we openly acknowledge a disconnect—such as living with implants was for me, then we can move through a process of self-inquiry to find a solution and greater personal freedom. We can stand behind our choices.
What was it like for you writing the book? Cathartic? Traumatic? Both?
Writing this book was empowering and cathartic. The whole explant process offered a metaphor and lens for myriad ways I had allowed for external forces to impact my internal decision-making processes. We all want to feel our worth. We all want to fit in and be seen. However, prioritizing what the outside world thinks of us can lead us down a path of making decisions that make us feel like strangers in our own lives. In my book, I wrote, “I write the story to right the story.” Writing is such a powerful tool for remembering who we are, and when we share that process, we invite others to do the same in their own way. I found it so empowering and affirming to share and create community around owning my body, choices and growth. I have met amazing people along the way and had incredible experiences come forth [the Equinox campaign in 2017 that showed my flat chest for one] too! I teach writing workshops to model to others the transformative power of putting words to our internal landscapes. Inner inquiry is edgy, and it is also liberating.
What do you hope people take away from reading your book?
I want people to read LAST CUT and walk away with the remembrance that we are whole (scars and all). Period. I offer a mirror that reflects back to people that our truest beauty shines through when we take ownership of our inner knowing and when we take action to live a life that embodies this truth. The most gorgeous iteration of self is one that resonates with you. Empowerment is stunning!
We each know more about our bodies and minds than anyone else. So why outsource fundamental decisions to the beliefs of others? [There obviously is a time and place for professional and medical advice and consultation. I am speaking to the day-to-day and the heart and soul decisions that can so easily be swayed by societal ideals.]
The book also features quotes taken from Last Cut Conversations podcast interviews that I did with phenomenal humans who have made bold last cuts in their lives. My intention is that we are emboldened in each other’s company to show up more authentically and bravely for ourselves. I want to remind people that we can cultivate a deeper connection to self that supports us in navigating all experiences, medical, physical and otherwise. We can face even the most dizzying moments and decisions with grace and greater ease when we take the time in the quiet to find clarity within ourselves. We then have a map with which to navigate. Asking informed questions begins as an internal process.
Can you share your favorite part of the book with us?
My favorite part of the book is the TRUST chapter. This chapter speaks to the moment in the Last Cut framework during which things can feel messier before they get better. We can make decisions with clarity and still undergo some moments along the way that may feel rocky. My creative partner on Last Cut Project, photographer Lisa Field, and I came up with this idea to have me sit in a bathtub filled with charcoal water. She had me stay there for a long time while she photographed me. This visual metaphor expresses how sometimes we must sit with the challenges, messiness, cleanup before we find our way to the other side. Clarity comes. We simply have to have the patience to be still, to be present, to trust in the process. I wrote, “Being in it is beautiful.” “Being in it” is the one where the most precious alchemy happens. The TRUST phase is also where we learn to sit with ourselves, to hold ourselves, to be our own best friend and advocate. From this place, we emerge transformed, stronger, bolder, more beautiful.
Any parting thoughts?
Looking back, I believe I wrote this book to remind a younger me that only I know what will make me happy. This book is a manifesto for authentic, participatory living! Writing this became a love letter to self to say, “Your voice is the one to honor as you make big life decisions.” So, remember to listen to yourself and value what you hear.
My current project, My Beautiful Alien, furthers this work by inviting us all into shared conversation around the things we have been told to hide. I am currently answering 99 questions people have asked of me. Join us!
I would love to gift LAST CUT to you. You can use the code STUNNING for the book (not including shipping).